The lost 1916 Australian silent movie The Pioneers is known only from contemporary descriptions and a few stills such as this one, probably from the closing scenes of the film. It shows Deirdre, played by Alma Rock Phillips, and a boy contemplating the graves of pioneers Donald and Mary Cameron.
The Pioneers was based on Australian writer Katharine Susannah Pritchard’s award-winning 1915 novel of the same name and was shot in 1915 near Gosford, NSW and in Franklyn Barrett’s Sydney studio.
It follows the lives of two generations in the Australian bush. An escaped convict from Van Dieman’s Land (Dan Farrel, played by Winter Hall) surrenders himself to pioneering couple Mary and Donald Cameron. Dan becomes a schoolteacher, marries and has a daughter, Deirdre. McNab, a local pub-owner, learns of Dan’s convict past and threatens to make the information public. In order to silence McNab, Deidre agrees to marry him. Her sacrifice is pointless, as McNab alerts the police anyway and Dan is arrested. Deirdre accidentally kills McNab, but Donald Cameron manages to save her from prison and brings about the release of her father.
The Pioneers was Katharine Susannah Pritchard’s first published novel. It was again adapted for cinema in 1926.